Submitting Fiction to Magazines (Stating the Obvious – sort of)

As the editor at Albedo One whose email is the point of contact for email submissions I find myself having to weed out submissions from people who have failed to read – or possibly understand – our guidelines. So I thought I would re-state a couple of basic hints for submitting in gereral and to Albedo One in particular.

There are two pieces of advice that relate to submitting anywhere. If you submit regularly you will know them already but… RTFGuidelines. The importance of checking the published guidelines cannot be overstated. Every market has its own requirements – in fact some I have read insist that submissions that are made using anything but one or two approved fonts will be rejected unread. For me, this is a little excessive but I’m sure the editors have their own reasons for the requirement. Remember, editors receive a huge amount of submissions on a regular basis – most of which are unsuitable but must be read to be rejected. Albedo One is a small magazine but we reject well in excess of ninety-nine percent of all stories submitted. Reading the slush pile os the most onerous task for the Albedo One team yet it is where the content of our magazine originates.

RTFMagazine. Many magazine do not accept simultaneous submissions. If you wish to sell to them – amongst their number can be counted the most prestigious and best paying markets in genre fiction – you tie up a story for an average of three months while you wait for a decision. For your own sake, you should determine which markets are best suited to your story. That means reading a copy of the magazine. It’s probable most writers operating in the SF, fantasy and Horror genres have read the Big Three (Asimov’s, Analogue and F&SF) though from my experience few of them have read the smaller ones. But even if you have read a copy of Asimov’s from 1993 – guess what? – the editor and probaly the entire staff has changed, so it is in many respects a (somewhat) different magazine with a (somewhat) different personality. You need to check in occasionally, stay up to date with the style of story being published. I can vouch for Albedo One that in our eighteen years of publication the editors’ tastes have changed – in some cases so have the editors. But the flavour of stories we are publishing has evolved.

An editor at another magazine – who shall remain nameless – said to me once that if everyone who submitted to his magazine bought a copy he could continue publishing indefinitely and increase his payment rates to writers dramatically. Not every magazine has a sales driven business model. I was speaking to Neil Clarke about Clarkesworld and comparing its readership to Albedo One. At the time he had close to twelve thousand readers but, he was quick to point out, he had never sold a single COPY as it was available free. If we relied on advertising or donations Albedo One would be a single sheet that came out once a decade. Last issue I think we covered about a third of our production costs with advertising. But the cost that has grown out-of-control is postage. If you reside outside Ireland as do most of our readers, it costs more to post you a copy than it does to print it and pay our contributors.

Why a hard copy magazine then? Because we feel it is worth the effort. Because there are so few left. Because it’s what we love to do. But… here it comes… as you knew it would… if you value what we and people like us do you need to buy an occasional copy or hit the donate button in order to ensure that we’re there the next time you want to read a genre magazine or submit to one. It’s merely enlightened self-interest.

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About Bob Neilson

Bob Neilson lives in Dublin with his wife, two daughters, son, two dogs, one cat and a growing feeling of claustrophobia. In partnership with his wife he runs a successful retail business in Dublin city. His short fiction has appeared extensively in professional and small press markets and he has had two plays performed on RTE and one on Anna Livia FM. He also presented a radio show on Anna Livia for a year. He has had two short story collections published, Without Honour (1997, Aeon Press) and That’s Entertainment (2007, Elastic Press) as well as several comics and a graphic novel. His non-fiction book on the properties of crystals is a best-seller in the UK and Ireland.
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One Response to Submitting Fiction to Magazines (Stating the Obvious – sort of)

  1. Bobbo says:

    Your’s is the intlegleint approach to this issue.

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